Redding, New Milford among trail grant recipients
Several area trail projects are closer to becoming reality with the $3 million in state grants announced this week.
Redding was the biggest recipient, receiving $300,000 for its first section of the Norwalk River Valley Trail. The design for the Redding Mile piece is already complete and was paid for with private donations.
“The Mile will be a great addition to our town,” said Stuart Green, the Redding town leader for the trail. “Once this section is built, I know our community will be eager for connections south to Ridgefield and north to Danbury.”
The 30-mile trail is planned to span from Norwalk through Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and end in Danbury. So far pieces are already built in Wilton and Norwalk, totaling eight miles. Redding will have 3.2 miles total.
This is one of 19 projects the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection selected for its recent round of grants through the Recreational Trails program. The Connecticut Greenways Council serves as an advisory committee to DEEP for grant selection. The money was allocated at the state bond commission in July.
There were 73 applicants for these grants, totaling more than $12 million in requests. Eligible projects are for locally supported bikeways, greenways, trails and trail systems. There’s a wide list of ways the grants can be used, including land acquisition, publications, amenities and planning and design.
New Milford also received a $180,500 grant to plan and design a 2.5 mile extension for the river walk. So far a piece is already built along Young’s Field, but the town hopes the trail will eventually span 13 miles and tie into the larger western New England Greenway trail, which will go from New York City to Canada.
“I’m very excited the state has decided to give us a grant so we can continue the trail,” Mayor Pete Bass said.
He said he’s looking for the next phase which will begin at Boardsman Bridge. The timeline is being finalized.
Another area project that will benefit from the money is the Housatonic Valley River Trail — a canoe and kayak trail on the Still and Housatonic rivers. It already travels through Newtown, Danbury, Brookfield and New Milford. Monroe received $220,000 to plan and design two of the sections the trail. The town will be using money from the state Department of Transportation for the construction.
The Connecticut Forest and Park Association received $295,500 to maintain and restore the Blue Blazed Hiking Trail system, which has more than 825 miles throughout the state. The money will also be used for CT Trails Day. Last year, Connecticut had more than 250 events — the largest of any state participating in the national event.
But the recent state grants isn’t the last step for these projects.
Redding still has to raise $32,000 to meet its match. The Norwalk River Valley Trail has already raised $58,000 for this portion.
“Surely $32,000 is a notable sum,” said President of the NRVT Patricia Sesto said. “However, the Redding community has been so generous and now that we have this grant, I am confident that generosity and this opportunity will encourage people and businesses to step up.”
The Redding Mile, is located in the woodlands between Pickett’s Ridge Road and Fire Hill Road. It will be built this year with Ridgefield expected to be close behind. The trail plan and construction estimates for the 1.5 mile Ridgefield Ramble section are completed. The association is working on permitting and fundraising with hopes to build in 2020.
Green said he’s excited for the trail to be built in Redding.
“Even given our well known trail system the NRVT is an amenity unlike anything we have in Redding,” he said. “The wide, smooth surface makes this trail attractive for biking, running, and simply strolling for both the young and old.”